Proceedings of Student Research and Creative Inquiry Day Journal officially published online

The official Proceedings of Student Research and Creative Inquiry Day journal from this year’s event is now available online at Other information from the event, including a list of winners and the PDF file of the printed abstract book, is available at


TTU Chemistry Faculty Appointed to US Department of Energy Visiting Faculty Program

TTU chemistry professor, Dr. Tao Yu, was offered an appointment in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Visiting Faculty Program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the summer of 2018. He will be working with a research mentor in the Computational Sciences and Engineering Division. The Visiting Faculty Program is sponsored and managed by the DOE Office of Science's Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists in collaboration with the DOE laboratories. DOE's workforce development programs help ensure an adequate supply of scientists, engineers, and technicians for energy-related research, production activities, and the transfer of technology. The advancement of science, mathematics, and technology education is an essential part of DOE's mission. For more information about DOE, its workforce development programs, and its laboratories, please visit

 Tech breaks ground for new lab science building

Phonsnasinh, Bailey (Published Monday, November 6, 2017)

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Biology department chair Rob Kissell, chemistry department chair Jeff Boles, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Paul Semmes and President Phil Oldham celebrate the groundbreaking of the new lab science building.

Construction of a new lab sciences building at Tennessee Tech is officially underway and was celebrated at a groundbreaking ceremony Friday afternoon.

“It’s really once in a lifetime opportunity to create something like this,” said university President Phil Oldham. “I couldn’t be prouder of the faculty and staff that have participated in bringing a collection of ideas together in a way that is going to really benefit Tech students for generations to come.”

The $90 million, 160,000-square-feet facility will be the largest academic building at Tech and the its first LEED certified building, housing the chemistry department, a portion of the biology department and lab space for earth sciences, physics and environmental sciences.

The new building replaces Foster Hall and will be the anchor for a new academic quad located immediately north of the Capital Quad residence halls on the site of a current parking lot.

“The people involved in this project have been very dedicated,” said Department of Chemistry Chair Jeff Boles. “They have been, and in some cases continue to be, involved in everything from classroom and laboratory design to flooring and furniture selection.”

A team of more than 40 faculty members worked closely with architects Upland Design Group in Crossville and Bauer-Askew Architecture in Nashville on the building design. Together they have incorporated collaborative spaces unlike any that have ever existed at Tech as part of the building’s design, allowing faculty and students to interact and work together in an unprecedented way.

“President Oldham wanted us to be fearless,” Boles said. “He wanted to be forward-thinking. He wanted us to design something better, something bigger, something ready for tomorrow that not only fostered and supported growth in enrollment but professional growth in faculty, staff and students.”

Design features focus on collaborative space, active learning and “Science on Display,” which is the appropriate use of glass in a building so that people can see what goes on.

“This building can best be described in the experiences that it will make possible,” said Department of Biology Chair Rob Kissell. “Those experiences are going to be transformative experiences, they are going to be enhanced experiences and they are going to be collaborative experiences. The new building will be transformative on campus on many levels.”

Upland Design Group in Crossville and Bauer-Askew Architecture in Nashville previously worked on Bell Hall, home of the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing.

The Christman Company, which also built Ray Morris Hall, home of the Millard-Oakley STEM Center, is the contractor for the building project.

The project was funded by the State of Tennessee in the university’s 2016 budget appropriation.

Alumni Spotlight

R. Thomas Collins, II, MD

TTU Class of '98

  • Dr. Tom Collins

    Dr. Tom Collins

Tom Collins received his B.S. in chemistry in 1998 from Tennessee Tech. He then went to med school at UT and graduated in 2002. He completed a four-year combined residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and then went on to train in Pediatric Cardiology at one of the best hospitals in the world, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He rounded out his time there with an advanced fellowship in cardiac imaging and adult congenital heart disease and accepted his first faculty appointment at the level of Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock in 2010. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2015.

Tom's research interests have been quite varied; however, he has garnered national and international recognition as a leading expert in the cardiovascular complications of Williams syndrome, as well as some other connective tissue disorders. As a result of this expertise, he was recruited to join the faculty of Stanford’s School of Medicine in June, 2017. He is building and directing a connective tissue disorder program there. This represents an enormous opportunity, and he is excited to join the faculty of one of the world’s leading institutions. 

Tom wanted to share this exciting news with the people at Tennessee Tech who played a role in his being where he is in his career. Per Tom, "You poured into me in some way or other, and I continue to appreciate that and all you do at Tech. I am proud to have come through that program and hope that my achievements reflect well on it."

R. Thomas Collins II, MD

Associate Professor of Pediatrics (Cardiology)

Stanford University School of Medicine

Director, Cardiovascular Connective Tissue Disorders Program

Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford